On Thursday, the city kicked off its 14-month celebration of the centennial of Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Parkway 100, a festival of music, dancing, food, and culture.

At 6 p.m. on Friday, the festival introduces a new vehicular element with Fireflies — free pedicab rides open to the public through Oct. 8.

Some 27 specially constructed pedicabs, lit up with large colorful lanterns, will swarm up and down the Parkway from 6 to 10 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday, rain or shine.

Pedaled by pros hired for the occasion, the pedicabs — which seat a maximum of two people — will make a circuit up and down the Parkway between two pick-up and drop-off points.

The locations are at Iroquois Park at 24th Street and the Parkway, and Sister Cities Park at 19th Street and the Parkway.

You can grab the ride, which lasts 15 minutes, at either spot and ride one leg of the journey to the other spot. Riders can wait in line or reserve a ride online.

Each spot will feature a booth showing a video about the cabs, which were made by Chinese-born New York artist Cai Guo-Qian.

The pedicabs were inspired by traditional Chinese painting and lantern design, Cai, 59, said by email from Russia, where he is working on another installation.

"What's very moving to me on this Parkway is the fact that it is lined with so many flags commemorating the importance of the immigrant history in Philadelphia," Cai said.

"Over the course of many visits to Philadelphia, I noticed this, and it inspired me to create an image that everybody, including immigrants, could gather and experience together."

A representative for the Association for Public Art, which organized the rides, recommends making a reservation, "especially during the first few weekends of [Parkway 100], when the interest will be particularly high."

For information and reservations, visit the association's website at associationforpublicart.org.


Pedicabs will run in a circuit along Benjamin Franklin Parkway between Iroquois Park at 24th Street and Sisters Circle Park at 19th Street. Rides seat a maximum of two people and last 15 minutes.
Tickets: Free; reservations recommended.
Information: associationforpublicart.org.